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Daisho-in Temple

Miyajima’s main temple, Daishō-in is tucked back into the well-treed lower slopes of Mount Misen, about ten minutes south of Itsukushima-jinja. Daisho-in is one of the most important temples in Shingon Buddhism and the sect’s founder, Kobo Daishi, first began the practice of Buddhism on Miyajima. The temple has interesting pavilions, lily-filled ponds, and stone…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: West Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Kamakura

About 50km south west of Tokyo, the lovely seaside town of Kamakura is known for its large variety of shrines and temples, as well as a giant bronze Buddha. The Buddha, the second largest in Japan, was once housed in a grand temple, but a tsunami tore down the building in the 15th century, and…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: East Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Mount Koya

Not far from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s third largest city, the holy mountain known as Koya-san is one of the most peaceful spiritual centres in the country. Mount Koya is the heart of Shingon Buddhism and the resting place of the sect’s founder, perhaps Japan’s best known Buddhist, known as both Kukai and…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , , , ,

Nanzenji

Even to the casual observer it is obvious that Nanzen-ji is one of the most powerful temples in Japan – indeed, since 1381 it has been named the principal Zen temple in Kyoto. The kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden of crushed rocks and shrubs with a backdrop of ‘borrowed’ scenery from the nearby hillside is said…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,

Nara

The capital of Japan from 710 to 784, Nara was built on a grid pattern, influenced by T’ang Chinese cities of the time. The first written records date from this period, and Nara is generally regarded as the birthplace of Japanese civilisation. The town’s greatest legacy for the visitor, however, is the collection of ancient…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , ,

Okunoin

Mt Koya’s Okunoin is the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered people in the religious history of Japan. Okunoin is one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot. Since Kukai’s death in the 9th…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , , ,

Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryu-ji is the most important temple in Arashiyama. It was ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. It is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism. Built in 1339 by the ruling shogun, the temple”s buildings…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,

The Garan

Legend has it that Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, threw a Buddhist ceremonial tool from China, where he had been studying, to Japan. Later, having returned to Japan, and in search of a place to base his new religion, he came across this tool in the branches of a pine tree on Mount Koya…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , ,

The Taya Caves

From roughly between the years 1200 to 1700, Shingon Buddhist monks excavated an underground maze of tunnels behind Josenji Temple near Kamakura as a site for spiritual training. Dark, silent corridors lead to small, domed meditation chambers with walls and ceilings carved with fantastic creatures and Buddhist images, and on down to the spring room…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: East Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Todaiji

Todaiji (“Great Eastern Temple”) is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower…

Type: buddhism  |  Category: Kansai  |  Tags: , , ,